The Astoria City Council voted three to two last night against a staff proposal to increase the premium paid by out of city limit water users to tap into the city water supply. Staff had brought forward a water rate resolution to increase the premium from 10% to 12.5% pointing out that the industry standard for the service is much higher but could not convince the majority of councilmembers there is sufficient justification to support the increase.
In other action Monday night:
A new city project is also on the horizon for the Astoria Waterworks. The city has a master plan for the water system that recommends the city install a Clearwell tank at the headworks to increase the system capacity, improve disinfection, and improve operational flexibility.
City Manager Brett Estes told the city council that preliminary planning is underway for developing the project to determine the scope, cost and funding strategy for what is estimated to be the $1-2 million cost.
Another project, this time for the city water treatment plant would build a new headworks at that facility to increase efficiency. The council voted in favor of accepting a grant from Business Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority to fund a design concept for $20,000. The city will pitch in an additional $6,100 to complete the funding.
The city council approved a $1.5 million project to replace the filtration sand the city uses to filter out the raw water at the headworks. The slow-sand filtration system requires sand replacement periodically and the city sets aside money each fiscal year to fund that work. Big River Construction was awarded the bid Monday night.
In October of this year, the Astoria Police Department responded to a noise complaint downtown that was caused by a car alarm. The alarm would sound and then reset and start up again. The car was licensed out of state and police were not able to locate the owner. At that point, the police department's hands were tied because other than the nuisance created by the alarm going off there was nothing in city code that would allow officers to have the vehicle towed based on a noise complaint. Monday night the council held a public hearing and the first reading of an addition to the towing ordinance that would give the police authority to remove the offending vehicle.
In the basement of the Astoria Public Library is a treasure trove of historical items important to the town's history and that of Clatsop County. Former city librarian Bruce Birney stored many of those items away and the collection has been named for him. Work has been underway to identify and preserve those items and Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and recreation department has awarded a $10,850 grant to assist with that preservation effort. Monday night the city council accepted the grant on behalf of the city library.
The city council also approved a resolution brought by the Library Foundation expressing support for fundraising efforts to remodel the current library building. The Foundation has set a goal of raising $3.5 million for that project.